Hey, Rizzle Kicks fans! Jordan Stephens, one half of GoThinkBig’s favourite music-making duo, made his acting debut on Monday in Glue (catch it on 4OD).
And while that isn’t a big leap from one entertainment medium to another, a recent study shows that a whopping 96% of under 24-year-olds have changed career at least once since graduating from university. The research from New College of the Humanities also found that only 50% of UK graduates actually work in a field that relates to their degree.
So we looked at what it takes to change careers from those who have taken the plunge!
From Children’s Entertainer to Creative Solutions Director
Hannah Morris took her future into her own hands when she quit acting and her Hannah Banana children’s act to become a Creative Solutions Director. “I craved normality, a pay cheque and a career. I have a creative brain and I wasn’t using it, and I didn’t want to look back when I was 80 and feel like I hadn’t achieved anything,” she says of taking the leap.
Her current role involves working across heat, Closer, Grazia and the Debrief to create advertising campaigns. Her role includes anything from taking a brief from Chanel to coming up with a promotion for mouthwash; a world away from dressing up as a clown doing magic, making balloon animals and generally being silly.
“Having lived and breathed acting all my life it was a huge step to close that door,” Hannah explains. “My friends were insanely jealous that I was working on heat as we all grew up reading it, and were even more envious of the parties I got to go to, and my family supported me 100%.”
Despite the move into media being “a huge learning curve”, 10 years on she’s still as enthusiastic about it. “I never saw myself in a desk job and although I do have a desk I am barely at it. How many people do you meet that work on brands they absolutely love?”
From Olympian to News Reporter
In 2008, Jeanette Kwakye was competing in the Beijing Olympics, but it wasn’t until 2012 when she began to consider another career path.
“I was coming to a crossroad in my sports career and had suffered a huge blow weeks before London 2012. So after a lot of thought, I decided I still wanted to go to Rio 2016, but not as an athlete.”
Despite the challenges Jeanette faced like undertaking work experience roles as a 30-year-old and going from working on her own to working in a team, she says the roles aren’t that different:
“Sport has great transferable skills; you have to be disciplined, focused, savvy and creative to ensure you are being as productive as possible. Also learning technical elements of journalism is a bit like learning the technical skills of a 100 metre race, although it is taking me a little bit longer than I would like to get my head around shorthand!”
And she admits that perseverance is key: “You have to keep on reminding yourself that it is all part of a bigger picture and that’s how I started my sports career; by learning from the best. I never thought I would be privileged enough to get to the top of my game with my first career, but now I think, why shouldn’t I be able to do the same with my new one?”
It’s an exciting new path, but her parents will have to get used to seeing Jeanette on Sky Sports or hearing her on BBC Radio instead of “coming to watch me race and being able to brag”.
From Data Management to running a Guest House
Having worked for big multi-national banks where he was responsible for ensuring data centres worked efficiently, Andrew Slaney had experienced a change in the way they treated their employees.
“I had seen the whole corporate life change from somewhere where you were valued, thanked and rewarded well to a cost cutting, cold-hearted, red tape bureaucratic animal,” he says. So when redundancy came round, he left and entered the hospitality industry.
“All I knew was that I wanted to work for myself and not be constrained by stupid rules and regulations made up by someone else. I expected to become a plumber, electrician, or similar.”
But it was when he and his wife looked into buying property that they considered buying a B&B instead. “We decided to see if we liked it by running a Ski Chalet in France for a season. And since this didn’t throw up any new surprises, we decided to go for it!”
After their experience abroad, opening East Cliff Cottage Hotel in Bournemouth was much how they expected it to be.
“The admin side (booking systems, setting prices, etc) was a bit more convoluted than we thought it would be, and has proved the most challenging bit for us. And I thought that would be one of the easier bits, especially given my background!”
From Finance to Social Responsibility
For two years Stephanie Denamps worked in finance for a consumer goods company “working with numbers, creating and updating complex excel sheets and doing PowerPoint presentations”, before realising that it wasn’t what she wanted out of life. What she needed was to feel she was doing something exciting and purposeful enough to get her out of bed every day.
Luckily, Stephanie found the job satisfaction she craved in her new role in Social Enterprise and CSR at O2. What is CSR? “Corporate Social Responsibility: this is how private, profit-making companies act responsibly towards society and the planet, and give back to their communities,” Stephanie says.
Stephanie took the time to learn about her new preferred field, doing a Masters in International Development to show commitment in her CV, and because she was eager to learn more about the topic, she also took on a leadership programme.
“What best allowed me to do the shift was a one year programme called On Purpose which I did after my Masters, which combined training and work experience in a wide range of social enterprises. That year allowed me to learn more on the job about this sector and develop all the contacts and networks I would need to move on my own.”
Stephanie’s past and present roles differ greatly but the biggest change she’s seen is in the outcome of the job. “In my previous role the ultimate objective of my job was to optimize the profit of the company. In the new one, we really care about having a positive impact on the lives of people.”
Despite Stephanie’s friends’ and family’s finding her foray into a new industry hard to understand, they were supportive and admired her decision. So has taking the leap from a secure-but-uninspiring role to a role full of job satisfaction been all Stephanie hoped it would be? “Yes! Of course any job has its tedious sides, but there is nothing better than working for something you’re passionate about.”
How to make the change
We asked Stephanie, Jeanette, Hannah and Andrew for their advice for anyone thinking of changing careers. Here’s what they said:
Follow your passion!
“If you’re thinking about it, it means it’s in you and you have everything it takes to make it happen. Follow your passions because it’s when you’ll do your job best.” – Stephanie
“Find out what transferable skills you can bring and how you can best position yourself. Maybe start doing it on the side, with side projects or attending networking events. Talk about what you want and put yourself out there as much as you can, and that will increase the chances of word-of-mouth opportunities coming up” – Stephanie
“I’d recommend getting closer to, and inspired by, people who have done a career change of any sort and those who have recently got into the field you’re looking into” – Stephanie
“Take the plunge, step outside your comfort zone and do not waste time. Life is way too short to be doing something you are unhappy with” – Jeanette
But have back-up!
“Always have a Plan B in case things don’t work out the way you expect” – Andrew
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